Arcane Fire

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Social Responsibility: H and M vs. Magnus

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Cynthia Magnus, a graduate student at CUNY, happened upon a trash bag of torn, mutilated new clothes with tags from H&M.  She contacted the H&M headquarters in Sweden, and after receiving no response, contacted the New York Times.  The story ran yesterday in the Times and by the end of the day, H&M, one of the biggest clothing retailers in the world, issued a response saying, “it will not happen again.”

It is winter. A third of the city is poor. And unworn clothing is being destroyed nightly.

A few doors down on 35th Street, hundreds of garments tagged for sale in Wal-Mart — hoodies and T-shirts and pants — were discovered in trash bags the week before Christmas, apparently dumped by a contractor for Wal-Mart that has space on the block.

Each piece of clothing had holes punched through it by a machine.

They were found by Cynthia Magnus, who attends classes at the Graduate Center of theCity University of New York on Fifth Avenue and noticed the piles of discarded clothing as she walked to the subway station in Herald Square. She was aghast at the waste, and dragged some of the bags home to Brooklyn, hoping that someone would be willing to take on the job of patching the clothes and making them wearable.

 It is refreshing to read about the news holding large corporations accountable, exposing irresponsible practices, and affecting change all in the same bite.  I can’t recall an incident where in similar circumstances the press exposed a conglomerate and within hours a positive outcome was rendered.  A responsible citizen took action, a major news source provided a large and eager audience, and a Goliath succumbed to standard business ethics and corporate responsibility.   More and more it seems the press’s job is to unearth the scandals of politicians or to report the sad tales of war struck states.  In this instance, however, the Times exposed a story that will hopefully help many of New York’s cold and needy.

NYTimes – A Clothing Clearance Where More Than Just the Prices Have Been Slashed

NYMag – H&M Destroys and Throws Out Perfectly Good Unworn Clothing

NYTimes – H&M Says It Will No Longer Destroy Unworn Garments


Written by doorr

January 7, 2010 at 11:14 am

One Response

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  1. I am delighted that someone put a spotlight on waste with H&M. I cannot imagine destroying things that can be given to the needy, with the list growing everyday. H&M, should send the clothes to a 3rd world country if it does not want to give these articles of slightly damage merchandise to charity here in America (NYC).
    That’s just my opinion.


    Rosette Rome

    January 9, 2010 at 10:55 pm

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